EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): Regarding our think tanks and lobbying organizations in Washington DC, Helleniscope has noted a few criticisms over the years. Last October, we harshly criticized Manatos & Manatos and their “OXI DAY” Foundation for the despicable, sacrilegious honoring on October 28, of Ukrainian President Zelenksy, who is proudly supported by Neo-Nazis… Absolutely appalling…(here is the link to our post). There are two more lobbying organizations / think tanks in DC, HALC led by Endy Zemenidis, and AHI led by Nick Larigakis. I have not delved into their operations at all. Still, last week in criticizing Dora Bakoyiannis for pushing “Joint Exploration” with Turkey in the Aegean, I criticized all three of our lobbying groups for not taking a stand against “joint exploration” between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean but instead keeping silent, in essence facilitating the State Department positions.
Nick Larigakis, to his credit, took issue with our statement and sent us a letter clarifying AHI’s positions as you will see below. We recognize his concerns, but as you will see from our response, Helleniscope is generally disappointed with the function of our lobbying organizations in DC. Furthermore, we expect that, as we are entering a multi-polar geopolitical world, all lobbying in DC will have to be reconsidered.
And so we extend to Mr.Larygakis an open invitation to express AHI’s positions in Helleniscope at any opportunity. As our rubric declares we are about “truth through knowledge”. I personally have much respect for AHI and its founder Gene Rossides, who devoted much of his life to the Cyprus Question. His work, his articles (published later in his book) were of great help as a reference, as I was doing my doctoral (field) research in Cyprus and writing my Ph.D dissertation on aspects of Greek-Cypriot identity.
We all have to gain from an honest and open discussion in fluid geopolitical times such as the ones we live in.
Mr. Larigakis’ Letter to Helleniscope
Dear Mr. Stamatakis:
I hope you are well.
I wanted to reach out to you regarding the following article titled “Dora Bakoyianni, Once Again, Pushes “Joint Exploitation” Of Greece’s Resources With Turkey!” I was surprised that you mentioned myself and AHI, and implied that we are somehow “playing with the State Dept’s demands”.
I want to respectfully relay that it is important to engage in proper due diligence before making accusations against specific individuals and organizations. AHI, since its founding in 1974, has been known for its openly hardline stance vis-a-vis Turkey and the U.S. State Department. In fact, AHI published a book in 2014 by Gene Rossides “Kissinger and Cyprus: A Study in Lawlessness”, which is mainly dedicated to criticizing Henry Kissinger and the State Department. In addition, AHI has patronized a research fellow, Gregory Graves, who has single handedly catalogued massive troves of declassified State Department documents from 1974, highlighting State Department complicity in Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus. Furthermore, AHI regularly releases statements critiquing the State Department’s appeasement of Turkey. If anything, Gene Rossides, myself, and AHI as a whole have often been critiqued as being too harsh on the State Department!
As such, I found your broadside of AHI as a tool of the State Department very bizarre. AHI has never advocated for a “joint co-exploitation” of Greece’s resources with Turkey, and has taken a very strong stance on protecting Greece’s sovereign rights.
I do want to clarify that AHI is a non-partisan organization. We do not endorse political parties in the United States, Greece, or Cyprus. As such, it is not my place or AHI’s, to comment on internal comments and or policy positions by Greek or Cypriot govt officials as related to their domestic issues. It is not AHI’s role to get mixed up in the internal politics of Greece and Cyprus. Gene Rossides always emphasized that AHI is an American-based, non-partisan organization, advocating for stronger U.S.-Greece, U.S.-Cyprus relations as is in the best interest of the United States.
To that effect, I would be grateful if you could remove reference to myself and AHI from the article, if possible. Furthermore, when you want to write about AHI in the future, I would appreciate it if you could reach out to me first, so I could give you all of the information from our end. It is perfectly within your rights to disagree with or criticize AHI, but please do so based on hard facts and correct information.
Thank you for your attention regarding this matter.
President & CEO
American Hellenic Institute
1220 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Dear Mr. Larigakis,
I thank you your letter and the clarification it includes. I happen to have read Eugene Rossides’ book on Cyprus and Kissinger and I consider it a landmark.
I can publish your letter in an update in the same article if you wish.
My approach is better understood as a broad expression of dissatisfaction with our think tanks and lobbying efforts in DC. In general (and contrary to Eugene Rossides’ heritage), our think tanks and lobbyists seem to assume that the DC establishment’s policies: a) Express “American” interests and b) Are to be followed and applied “faithfully” to Greece and Cyprus.
I disagree on both of these items. Yes, Greece belongs to the West, but the interests of Greece and, much more broadly, the interests of Hellenism, do not coincide 100% with the policies of the DC establishment. For example, the interests of Hellenism are best expressed by the majority of Greek shipowners who did NOT stop doing business with Russia despite the sanctions by the West (NATO, EU, etc).
Did AHI take a position on such issues? Did AHI issue a statement against Greece completely alienating Russia – considering the serious historical, religious, and geopolitcal common interests the two countries have? Did AHI say that Greece can participate in sanctions but not send weapons to Ukraine? Because by doing so, she is endangering her own interests? Greece and Russia share a common geopolitical enemy, Turkey – and I do not think I need to teach history or geopolitics to you….
To put it in another way, did AHI notice any Jewish-American think tank or lobbying organization criticize Israel for not sending weapons to Ukraine? Even though they are getting at least $3 B annually in US assistance? I do not think so… Why? I am wondering… And I am sure we both know the answer.
You understand my point.
When AHI is ready to answer the hard questions, Helleniscope will always be available to publish them.
Dear Mr. Larigakis,
You are a well connected man with the movers and shakers of the Washington DC’s governmental establishment. However the achievements of your decades long lobbying work are few and they have absolutely minimal impact for Greece’s and Cyprus’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The same applies for Manatos and Manatos and HALC’s Mr. Zemenidis. I am sorry to say it publicly, but all of you folks don’t rise to the occasion of protecting Greece’s and Cyprus’s ethnic integrity and sovereignty, courtesy of your totally ineffective lobbying work. That’s my humble opinion. I know that the truth hurts, but if you deal with it folks, you may try harder and achieve way much better results. Thank God that we have on our side Mr. Bob Menendez. The one and only true and effective lobbyist for Greece and Cyprus. Kind regards. Achilles Ligeras.